Redecorating Time in Foggy Bottom

During the Bush era, Bush-centric photographs lined the hall leading to the State Department cafeteria. The new management has other plans.
During the Bush era, Bush-centric photographs lined the hall leading to the State Department cafeteria. The new management has other plans. (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
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By Al Kamen
Friday, January 30, 2009

It was, of course, sadly inevitable. The smell of fresh paint wafting last week through the hall heading to the State Department cafeteria signaled the demise of the Bush Diplomatic Hall of Glory -- that series of lovely photographs that touted the 43rd president's world leadership and diplomatic victories.

Loop Fans will recall that the exhibit of about 20 large color photos caused a bit of a stir back in 2003 when it replaced the long-standing array of black-and-white shots of historic moments. That included an original political cartoon from the Jefferson era and Woodrow Wilson at Versailles and Roosevelt and Churchill signing the Atlantic Charter and so forth.

The George W. Bush exhibit, the old-timers complained, was hardly more than a family travel album, showing him and Laura Bush traveling about the world, hanging out with foreigners, not exactly making history. There were also a few pics of the secretary of state, first Colin L. Powell and then Condoleezza Rice, usually with the president in the picture.

Well, the photos were pretty, at least, and they came from the White House in an effort, we were told at the time, to "spruce up the building" and "liven up the halls."

The question now being asked, of course, is: What's going to replace them? Photos of the new first couple, Barack and Michelle Obama? Or photos of Bill and Hillary Clinton? Perhaps there could be a photo array of all the special envoys? (Most all envoys are, by definition, "special" -- otherwise they wouldn't be envoys.) Or maybe they'll bring back the old exhibit.

Not So Scary After All?

There's buzz that Samantha Power, an early supporter of Obama who advised him on foreign policy, may be reunited with Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom Power famously called "a monster" during the Democratic primary campaign.

Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Harvard University professor, worked on Obama's transition team and has been rumored to have landed a top job in the administration. The Associated Press reported last night that Power will become senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, a White House post that may require close contact and travel with now-Secretary of State Clinton.

Power was a foreign policy adviser on Obama's campaign but was forced to resign after her remarks to a Scottish newspaper last March set off a firestorm. "She is a monster," Power was quoted as saying of Clinton. Power later apologized to Clinton and was spotted chatting with Madam Secretary at a State Department ceremony last week.

Nominee for Deputy Dogged

Former Raytheon lobbyist William J. Lynn, nominated to be deputy secretary of defense in an exception to Obama's blanket rule against hiring Washington lobbyists, is shoveling hard to get out of a public relations hole. But so far he seems to have dug himself a bit deeper.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, asked Lynn on Monday to describe in advance the policy matters on which he will be recused, since Raytheon's Pentagon business interests are so extensive. Lynn replied Wednesday, saying he will become involved in matters that affect Raytheon only if the Pentagon's general counsel approves.

"It is not possible to catalogue the specific matters" on which he will be recused, Lynn wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by our colleague R. Jeffrey Smith.

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